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Raphael: Green investment can save cash in the future

Raphael: Green investment can save cash in the future

Beverly Raphael, president and chief executive of RCC Associates, a Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based contractor that specializes in building green restaurants, says there are many ways to make eateries more eco-friendly, but the first step is helping operators realize that their initial investment will eventually lead to savings.

What is the best advice you can offer about going green?

There are so many variables, different things today that operators can be doing. For example, the most flattering lighting in restaurants is typically not the most efficient. We’ve been telling restaurateurs to change their lighting to more efficient types for huge savings. We also tell them to put reflective film on their windows because that cuts down on the heat from the sunlight that comes in. And there are programmable thermostats that can be installed so they’re not running the air at the same temperature they need to when they have a full house. The thermostat [can be programmed to] know the time of day when it is busiest and can automatically turn down the electric output during off-peak hours.

What is the biggest challenge in convincing operators to go green?

While it’s obviously imperative to get as many businesses to convert to green, because of the economy it went for many from a concern about the planet to a concern about their own financial sustainability. Some are not open to it because they are more concerned about the economy than saving the planet. For those who believe in it, it’s not a difficult sell. But businesses that have had their growth stunted because they’ve not been able to get financing don’t want to fix things if they’re not broke. You have to spend a little in the beginning, but the savings show up within a year.

How do you keep current with all the new green technology?

It’s ever evolving like anything else that is new. If you think about the iPhone or the hand-held computer, look at how they’ve evolved. It’s a matter of making sure you’re up to date on everything. We’re never done with our research; we’re constantly trying to become more sustainable.

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